BOOK: The Unintended Consequences of Technology, by Chris Ategeka

The Unintended Consequences of Technology: Solutions, Breakthroughs and the Restart We Need
Chris Ategeka, John Wiley & Sons, 2021

In a recent book review for this magazine, we took a look at a guide to crisis management, which, I assured readers, would help them to sleep at night – safe in the knowledge that they would be prepared to weather any storm.

This issue, we present a book that promises to do the opposite: to keep you awake until the small hours, and possibly even make you unplug your Alexa unit once and for all.

It’s no exaggeration to say that technology and its algorithms have taken over many of our lives – from the news we read to the people we meet, vote for and, of course, the ads we see and the things we buy.

An explosion of technology and its myriad advancements in recent years are already reshaping what it means to be human. This is the premise of Chris Ategeka’s new book, The Unintended Consequences of Technology: Solutions, Breakthroughs, and the Restart We Need.

Technology is a double edged sword, he writes. Used properly it can have hugely positive, even life-changing impacts; on the flip side, it can cause serious damage.

In The Unintended Consequences of Technology, Ategeka outlines the technologies and trends that threaten humanity and the planet, and seeks to examine the ways in which they
can be managed.

In the opening pages to his new book, the author lays out a number of uncomfortable truths and side-effects from technologies that are already a part of our everyday lives: “A technology promising us democratic values such as freedom of speech and agency can also threaten democracies... In a world of infinite digital connectivity, millions of people still feel alone. Isolation and depression are public health crises... Digital technology is aiding our culture to reject reason yet heavily rewards outrage, untruths and myths.”

Ategeka is an engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Centre for the Unintended Consequences of Technology, a company that focuses on finding solutions to the challenges at the intersection of technology and humanity. A TED fellow, and one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 in 2014, he was also recently recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

The unintended consequences of technology are a huge existential crisis, he argues, but solving them also represents a huge opportunity, too. The author has selected a number of technologies and trends that he believes have the ability to transform what it means to be human, and offers a series of tips on how business leaders and decision-makers can prepare themselves for what’s to come. As such, he analyses the potential ramifications in AI, big data, gene editing, 5G, and the quite frightning sounding, but very real behaviour modification technologies – all of which hold both promise and uncertainty in equal measure.

A thought-provoking read for anyone interested in technology and risk.

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